Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

“My name’s not Kerri Tate.”

With a litany of disappointing and/or critically panned sequels following Halloween II (1981), the Halloween franchise was pretty much dead in the mid-1990s. Hoping to possibly resurrect the franchise and also to cash in on the resurgence of the slasher film thanks to the success of Scream (1996), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) hit the big screen with a story that ignores all but the first two films and celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the first Halloween film released in 1978. John Carpenter was originally offered the job of directing the film but he eventually backed out of the project whenever Moustapha Akkad, who produced Carpenter’s original Halloween film (and all of the sequels after it), refused to pay him ten million dollars and to agree to a three film deal. Jamie Lee Curtis returned to play Laurie Strode only on the condition that she would kill Michael Myers in the film in a way that would not tease a sequel. Also returning was Nancy Stephens as Nurse Chambers from Halloween II.

Kevin Williamson, riding a wave of success thanks to Scream, was brought in to help write the film. While his script wasn’t ultimately accepted, his input was utilized throughout the film’s production. Also brought in was newcomer Josh Hartnett as John Tate, Laurie’s son. He pulled double duty while working on the film as he was also working on The Faculty, another Dimension film production. Portraying John’s girlfriend, Molly, was Michelle Williams. Williams was also working on the first season of Williamson’s Dawson’s Creek television series at the time. Jodi Lyn O’Keefe and Adam Hann-Byrd portrayed John and Molly’s coupled friends, Sara and Charlie. O’Keefe was already in a successful television series, Nash Bridges, and Hann-Byrd was known for playing a young Robin Williams in Jumanji (1995) and starring in Little Man Tate (1991). Adam Arkin played Laurie’s love interest, Will, and LL Cool J portrayed a school guard named Ronny. It’s also noteworthy that Jamie Lee Curtis’ mother, Janet Leigh, herself a scream queen, also has a cameo as Norma Watson, Laurie’s secretary. Joseph Gordon-Levitt also has a small role in the film.

The film takes place twenty years after the events of the first two films. Laurie Strode is now living in California under the name “Kerri Tate” and is the headmistress of an exclusive and very secure school. She has a son named John and is developing a relationship with one of her co-workers, Will Brennan. John is celebrating his seventeenth birthday as well. Oh, and it’s Halloween. The rest of the school is getting ready for a trip to Yosemite National Park but Laurie/Kerri refuses to allow John to go in case Michael Myers shows up. John, convinced that Michael is long dead and not a threat anymore, decides to rebel by having a private party with Molly, Sarah, and Charlie while the campus is empty. Michael is on his way, however, having acquired Laurie Strode’s file from the home of Nurse Chambers. He arrives on the scene once all of the students have left for their trip and begins to eliminate people one by one as he makes his way to Laurie. Will Laurie finally kill her demented brother???? Watch Halloween H20: 20 Years Later in order to find out!

While it’s definitely an improvement over the sequels in the franchise, H20 is no masterpiece. It lacks the suspense of the original film and first sequel. Michael Myers is, at least in my opinion, entirely too clean and too slim to be a real threat to his victims. This is my least favorite portrayal of Myers in all of the films. Heck, they couldn’t even get his mask right (it changes throughout the film). The cast do a fine job but there’s just not enough substance to this film to really pull it out of its own mediocrity. I did enjoy all of the callbacks to other franchises. Scream, Friday The 13th, and Psycho are all given some pretty slick references (especially Psycho) that hardcore fans of the slasher genre will enjoy if they pick up on them. The climax of the film, while meant to shock, seemed to do nothing more than provide the film with a place to stop. Even back in theaters in the late 90s the ending didn’t hit like it was meant to when moviegoers witnessed it. In all, this is a serviceable sequel that could have been much better.

Is it worth watching? Yeah, especially if you really, really dislike the sequels prior to and immediately after it. It’s sad how this film provided such a decent starting point for a new series of sequels but instead we got the trainwreck that was Halloween: Resurrection (2002). Halloween is my favorite slasher franchise, but that’s primarily based on the strength of the first two films. I also enjoyed the Rob Zombie films (I know that they are pretty divisive) but the latest trio of films, especially Halloween Kills (2021) left me wanting.

Well, thanks for checking out my review. I know that I was kind of brutal about this film (at least “brutal” compared to most of my other reviews), but it just doesn’t meet expectations. I’ll be reviewing some more films later this month and throughout the rest of the year. I promise to find some good ones for you to enjoy!

Scream VI (2023)

It’s okay, Sid. This review is spoiler free!

Scream VI sliced and diced its way into theaters last week and I was fortunate enough to see it on Friday with my daughter. She’s a massive Scream franchise fan and was looking forward to the latest installment in the series as was I. We saw an early showing at a theater that lacked every single freebie and/or collectible, so we didn’t get any cool posters, cups, popcorn buckets, or plushies. We did, however, get a theater with just a few other people in it so we didn’t have to worry about anybody being loud or annoying during the movie.

In the film, viewers get to catch up with Sam and Tara, who have moved to New York along with their best buds and twin brother and sister, Chad and Mindy Meeks-Martin. Sam and Tara share an apartment with Quinn, their VERY sexually active roommate. Mindy has a steady girlfriend named Anika and Chad is rooming with the virginal and naive Ethan. Tara is trying desperately to break away from her overprotective sister and Sam is struggling with the events that happened in Woodsboro and attends therapy as a result. Also along for the ride is Detective Baily, Quinn’s father and the lead investigator trying to stop the newest Ghostface. Assisting him is a special agent from the FBI, Kirby Reed, who Scream fans will recognize as one of the survivors from Scream 4. While Sidney Prescott sits this flick out, her old pal Gale Weathers does appear in the film albeit in a reduced capacity.

The film poster teases “New York, New Rules,” and this Scream is different from the others in the fact that Ghostface has a somewhat unique and, at least in my opinion, believable motive for murder. The film has quite a few well orchestrated kills including one that I consider to be one of the best in the entire franchise. It also brings back some of the humor from the original film that has been slowly filtered out of the series over the years. Jenna Ortega as Tara is especially funny in some pretty perilous moments. I also loved the setting of the film’s final showdown. It definitely felt like it was a love letter to fans of the franchise.

As good as this film was it definitely had a few shortcomings. For starters, the signature opening kill was predictable. I believe that it was intentionally done this way in order to set up the rest of the movie but it felt a bit forced. As protective as Sam is, she (and the rest of the gang) makes some pretty dumb choices that leave her and others wide open to a Ghostface attack. Mindy really, really got on my nerves at times. Kirby seemed to be jammed into the film in order to fill the hole left by Sidney’s absence. In all honesty, I didn’t miss Sidney and Kirby was a bit of a nuisance. I also disliked the fact that many of Ghostface’s victims seemed to miraculously survive some very brutal attacks. I also managed to pick out one of the Ghostface killers not long after they appeared on screen.

I don’t want to say too much more about the film because I’ll risk spoiling it. That being said, this movie was very good and I enjoyed it more than Scream (2022). Sam (Melissa Barrera) gets to flesh her character out a bit more this time. Tara is funny, perhaps unintentionally at moments, but Jenna Ortega really stands out in this film. Courteney Cox could have phoned in her performance as Gale Weathers but actually took the character to a different level. Even though her role is smaller in this film, Cox took advantage of every second of her screen time and pulled off one of the funniest moments in the film and the franchise. Of course, I can’t mention this moment because this is a spoiler free review but if you happen to see me in the real world or want to shoot me a message, do so and we can talk about THAT moment in the film. Jasmin Savoy-Brown’s Mindy got under my skin. I fully understand that she’s Randy’s niece and she has a penchant to act like him, but I really pulled for Ghostface to take her out in this flick. Unlike Mindy, I was glad to see her twin brother, Chad (Mason Gooding), actually get some character development. He’s more than just the “jock” in this latest Scream installment. Kirby always bugged me in Scream 4, which also happens to be my least favorite film in the franchise, and I saw no reason for bringing her back for this film. Hayden Panettiere’s performance seemed out of place and I wish that Kirby wasn’t even in this movie. Of the new characters, Quinn (Liana Liberato) is probably my favorite. She injected a ton of humor into the film. Jack Champion as Ethan was pretty quiet and stayed in the background a lot of the time. He did a decent job in the film. The only other character worthy of mention is Detective Bailey (Dermot Mulroney), who I enjoyed.

Scream VI is better than its immediate predecessor but it won’t dethrone the original as my favorite Scream film. It features excellent kills, great humor, and one of the most believable Ghostface motives in a long time. It’s also very predictable at times and suffers from annoying characters like Mindy and Kirby. Still, go check it out. It’s worth a movie ticket.

Thanks for checking out my post. See you again real soon1

M3GAN: Unrated (2023)

(from left) M3GAN and Cady (Violet McGraw) in M3GAN, directed by Gerard Johnstone.

“She’s More Than Just A Toy….She’s A Part Of The Family.”

With Blumhouse and Atomic Monster producing, Gerard Johnstone directing, and Akela Cooper and James Wan penning the tale, M3GAN had a solid foundation for its vision of AI horror. The original PG-13 version of the film was premiered in December of 2022 in Los Angeles and was released nationwide in January 2023. It raked in a ton of cash thanks to solid story and a stellar ad campaign that most notably featured the AI doll M3GAN dancing. Her dance became a viral hit on social media and some believe that re-edits were done in order to get a PG-13 rating for the film. This definitely allowed more fans a chance to see the film but it also proved to be one of the few complaints about the movie. While M3GAN definitely humor in spades, she proved to be lacking in violence. Peacock, eager to get their own piece of the M3GAN pie, released an unrated version of the film on its streaming service on February 24, 2023. It promised more gore. It delivered, but not in an excessive amount.

In the film, a young girl, Cady, loses her parents in an accident and is sent to stay at her single aunt’s home. Her aunt happens to be a robotics whiz for Funki, a toy company currently attempting to develop a cheaper version of its top-selling toy, Purrpetual Petz, an AI toy that adapts to and interacts with its child owner. Another toy company has developed a cheaper version of the Purrpetual Petz and Cady’s aunt, Gemma, is part of the team assigned to develop a more budget-friendly version of the toy. On the side she is developing a new AI doll, M3GAN (Model 3 Generative Android), that gets to know its owner on a personal level, provides companionship, and can even register a child’s body temperature, demeanor, and other things. When Gemma’s boss finds out that she has been using company resources to develop the doll, he becomes enraged. Hoping to appease him, Gemma introduces M3GAN to her niece who is having difficulty adjusting to her new, somewhat boring life with her aunt. The duo become quick friends and Gemma’s boss insists that she and her team continue with the M3GAN project. As Cady and M3GAN bond, Cady becomes even more distant with her aunt. M3GAN takes Gemma’s request of her to protect Cady at all times to a violent, bloody level, taking out threats to Cady. As the story continues, M3GAN becomes self-aware, begins hiding her activity from Gemma, and does everything that she can to eliminate any and all threats to Cady. In the end, M3GAN squares off against Gemma. Who wins? How sweet are M3GAN’s dance moves? Watch the film in order to find out!

(from left) Cady (Violet McGraw), M3GAN and Gemma (Allison Williams) in M3GAN, directed by Gerard Johnstone.

The film is very good. I’ve only seen the unrated version and based upon what I’ve heard of the original film, the only additions to the unrated version are a bit more gore and quite a few more F-bombs. The film isn’t very scary and I figured out who (or what) would be the end of M3GAN near the beginning of the film. The movie spends a good deal of time developing the relationships of Gemma and Cady and M3GAN and Cady. One could easily see the film as a look at the ethical and moral difficulties that arise as a result of humans depending upon AI or replacing human interaction with AI. While M3GAN is definitely creepy, the attempt to make her sinister was often derailed by the film’s humor. Overall, though, it’s still a pretty fun ride.

The film’s cast is pretty solid. Allison Williams stars as Gemma and Violet McGraw plays Cady. They have excellent uncomfortable chemistry at the beginning of the film and McGraw takes it to another level once she becomes fully captivated by M3GAN. M3GAN is played by Amie Donald (voiced by Jenna Davis) and she does a very convincing job in the roll. The cast is rounded out by Ronny Chieng, Lori Dungey, Jen Van Epps, Stephane Garneau-Monten, and Brian Jordan Alvarez. The biggest star of the film is the special effects by Morot FX Studio and Weta Workshop. Morot gave life to animatronic puppet versions of M3GAN while Weta digitally enhanced Amie Donald’s performance to give her true doll-like looks.

M3GAN has already been given the green light for a sequel and it is expected to hit theaters in January 2025. Social media hacks have pushed for her to face off against Chucky in a Child’s Play/M3GAN battle royale. Hopefully this doesn’t occur as I’d much rather see M3GAN develop on her own without having to piggyback on an established franchise.

Check out this film. If you love horror with a bit of humor tossed in, this will definitely please you. Thanks for checking out my review. See you again real soon!

Throwback Thursday: Valentine (2001)

Roses are red….

In 1996, Wes Craven breathed new life into the stagnant slasher genre with Scream. It spawned a number of popular sequels and a slew of copycat films including Urban Legend and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Eventually the genre began to lose its appeal and studios attempted to revive it by injecting supernatural elements into the fray as in films like Final Destination. One of the last films to be released during the 90s slasher revival was Valentine, a 2001 film that followed the tried and true formula of a vengeful serial killer taking out those that wronged him in the past. It also utilized many of the same tropes that made other films in the genre very popular including a relatively new one introduced in Scream. While that movie listed Drew Barrymore as one of the stars, she was quickly offed at the beginning of the movie. In Valentine (spoiler alert), another popular actress was given top billing and dispatched immediately after the establishment of the the villain’s backstory. That actress was Katherine Heigl, who was riding a wave of success thanks to starring turns the television series Roswell and films like Bride of Chucky and Under Siege 2: Dark Territory.

Heigl wasn’t the only popular actor in the film. Both Denise Richards (Wild Things, Starship Troopers) and David Boreanaz (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel) were enjoying solid careers at the time of the film’s release. Jessica Cauffiel was in the early stages of a career that includes supporting roles in popular films like Legally Blonde and White Chicks and regular guest roles on television series such as My Name Is Earl. Not to be outdone, the other primary stars of the film, Marley Shelton and Jessica Capshaw, have both had stellar careers. Shelton is perhaps best known for appearing as Wendy Peffercorn in The Sandlot and Judy Hicks in two films in the Scream franchise. She currently stars in the series 1923, a Yellowstone spinoff. Capshaw, while appearing in a number of films over the years, carved out a stellar career on television in Grey’s Anatomy and The Practice. Hedy Burress, Johnny Whitworth, and Noel Fisher also have roles in the film.

In the film, we learn how Jeremy Melton, a lonely outsider at the local junior high Valentine’s Day dance, is cruelly blown off by three popular girls in quick succession. A fourth girl, Kate, tells him that she might dance with him later. A fifth girl, the “slightly chubby but popular because she’s rich” Dorothy, accepts Jeremy’s request and ends up making out with him under the bleachers. Discovered by a group of bullies, Dorothy denies that she willingly made out with Jeremy and accuses him of attacking her. The bullies strip Jeremy to his underwear and humiliate him in front of the other kids at the dance. His nose begins to bleed. We are then taken thirteen years into the future where we see one of the mean popular girls, Shelley (Heigl), working on a cadaver in college. She is attacked and murdered by a mysterious person in a black coat and a creepy Cupid mask after receiving a cryptic Valentine’s Day card signed “JM.” A detective questions the four remaining girls at Shelley’s funeral and learns that all but one of them have recently entered into new relationships. The boyfriends immediately become suspects and Paige (Richards), who is unattached, begins to receive advances from the detective. As the story continues, the remaining girls begin receiving Valentine’s Day cards from “JM.” The killer, listed as “The Cherub” in the film credits, then murders Lily (Voight) at her boyfriend’s art show. The other girls assume that she is on a business trip out of town when the detective questions them yet again. Then the Cherub turns his attention to a Valentine’s Day party at Dorothy’s house. Dorothy (Capshaw), Paige, and Kate (Shelton) have to battle the Cherub in an attempt to stay alive. Who lives? Who dies? Who is the Cherub? Watch Valentine in order to find out!

Yes, Valentine is a generic slasher flick that utilizes a ton of genre tropes. The killer is easy to pick out and director Jamie Blanks (Urban Legend) doesn’t even try that hard to throw the audience off during the film. There is a slight twist at the end that, in all honesty, does nothing to make the audience second guess itself. What really sets this movie apart is that the core cast is all female and the guys that are in the film are essentially window dressing with the exception of the killer. That’s pretty cool in my book, but it isn’t enough to save this film from being just another generic slasher film. I enjoyed watching it but I wouldn’t necessarily rush out to watch it again. If you’re hungry for a decent little slasher flick with an especially cool looking villain, check out Valentine.

Thanks for checking out my post. See you again soon!

Sick (2022)

“Do you have a mask?”

Spoilers In Review!!!!!

Kevin Williamson of Scream fame teams up with Katelynn Crabb (additonal crew and assistant to Williamson on 2022’s Scream) to write a Scream knock off that utilizes phones, multiple killers, and even a one word title. What it doesn’t include is likeable characters and humor. Director John Hyams keeps the pace up and actually whittled this little spooker to just under ninety minutes which at least gives you the notion that you didn’t entirely waste your time watching this film.

In the movie, social media addicted Parker (Gideon Adlon) and her intelligent and COVID-19 wary friend, Miri (Bethlehem Million) head out to Parker’s family cabin way out in the middle of nowhere to enjoy time off from college due to COVID restrictions. Unknown to the duo, DJ (Dylan Sprayberry), an old flame of Parker’s, decides to follow them up to the cabin in order to spark up a little romance. He fails. He also realizes that he and the girls aren’t the only ones in the cabin. A pair of killers (Why does that sound familiar????) collect the phones of the group and then attacks them. DJ attempts to fight off one of the killers as the two young ladies flee but he fails in a very dramatic fashion. Then Parker and Miri face off with their assailants and use everything that they can, from the internet to boat paddles, in order to stay alive. Parker finally manages to get to safety (or so she believes) and the third act kicks off yet another killer entering the melee. Why are the killers after Parker and Miri? Because Parker infected a loved one of the trio of slashers who ends up dead thanks to COVID. Yep, the slashers are COVID extremists. “Cough…..sprays Lysol.”

This film isn’t that great. It was quite surprising to see Jane Adams, veteran of stage and screen, pop up in this flick. It was absolutely no surprise that she turned in the best performance of the entire cast. None of the characters are worth cheering for and, in all honesty, I wish that the kill count was a bit higher. There just weren’t enough people in this film to make it interesting and none of those that were in it were likeable. It’s essentially Scream without the humor or a hero and fewer kills.

One thing that this film does manage to do is get one thinking about extremists on both sides of the COVID-19 pandemic. I saw the worst come out of people during the pandemic. From idiots tearing into a minimum wage employee who asked them nicely to wear a mask in the store to masked individuals chewing out random people in the streets for not wearing a mask, I saw a lot of ugly people during the lockdown. Those aren’t memories that I want to relive, but Sick makes you look those memories directly in the eye.

Thanks for checking out this post. I don’t recommend Sick unless you really, really have nothing to do for about ninety minutes. There are much better slasher flicks out there like Scream, Halloween, and Friday The 13th.

Dead End (2003)

“We should have left earlier.”

Somehow I managed to miss out on this sleeper hit way back in 2003, but discovering Dead End late one evening this week was a pure delight! This independent road thriller has a ton of things going for it and far exceeded my expectations. It was written and directed by Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa and features an amazing cast loaded with familiar character actors that horror fans will love.

Believe it or not but this film is actually a Christmas movie! It takes place on Christmas Eve night while Frank Harrington is driving his family and his daughter’s boyfriend to visit the in-laws for the holidays. Becoming sleepy, Frank decides to take a “shortcut” to keep things interesting so that he will stay awake. It doesn’t work, however, and he soon dozes off, almost hitting an oncoming vehicle. Finally awake, Frank continues to drive but stops when he sees a young woman dressed in white on the side of the road. The family picks up the woman and her infant (who is ridiculously quiet) and decide to take her to a cabin that they passed by earlier on the road. When they arrive at the cabin, people start vanishing one by one only to be discovered later by the survivors. They also witness a black hearse driving down the road with the vanished person in the back begging for help. This happens moments before they find the body of the missing person. The survivors continue to drive hoping to make it to a small town called Marcott. How many survive? Will they ever reach Marcott? Watch the film to find out what happens!

This film was a nice surprise. Sure, it isn’t perfect and there are much better horror films out there, but this movie checks off all of the right boxes to make it a very enjoyable flick. It has an amazingly solid cast featuring Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, Robocop, Jeepers Creepers 2, The Journey of Natty Gann, Swamp Thing), Lin Shaye (Insidious, The Grudge, Alone In The Dark, There’s Something About Mary, Ouija), Alexandra Holden (Wishcraft, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Dark Reel, Friends), and Steve Valentine (Crossing Jordan, Mars Attacks!, Spider-Man 3). The film also stars Mick Cain (The Bold And The Beautiful), William Rosenfeld (credited as Billy Asher, executive produced Zombeavers, among other films), and supermodel Amber Smith.

The film plays out like an episode of The Twilight Zone, with characters doubting themselves and others and turning on one another. Also like The Twilight Zone, it takes place almost entirely in one setting, a long stretch of road. In all honesty the plot is very predictable and the viewer is ultimately left to decide who will actually make it out of the film alive, if anyone at all. Wise and Shaye (as wife, Laura) turn in great performances. Wise is especially fun to watch as his sanity begins to unravel. Amber Smith doesn’t have much to say or do in this film as the mysterious woman in white, but she makes an impact with her brief performance. Billy Asher (as boyfriend, Brad) and Mick Cain (as son, Richard) both turn out nice performances with Cain being the most annoying character in the movie. The real star, in my opinion, is Alexandra Holden as Marion, the Harrington’s daughter. She has to deal with a ton of emotions right off the bat in the film and continues to struggle with them and be strong for others as the situation becomes worse.

If you enjoy highwayman horror or shows like The Twilight Zone, give Dead End a look. It’s a really enjoyable watch and I think that you’ll like it. It’s available on Tubi to stream for free as of this writing.

Thanks for checking out my post. See you again real soon!

Treevenge (2008)

The Trees Strike Back

With axes in hand, a team of Christmas tree farmers mow through a patch of trees. They burn some that aren’t worth keeping and ship the rest off to be wrapped up for Christmas tree retailers. What they don’t know is that the trees are tired of the sadistic tradition of having their family members chopped down to sit in homes for Christmas. This year, the trees fight back!

Clocking in at about sixteen minutes, this Canadian Christmas short film features a ton of gore, a few “sacred cow” moments where children (including an infant) are brutally murdered, more strong language per capita than any Quentin Tarentino flick, and plenty of laughs and callbacks to other films.

If you’re looking for a funny flick with ties to films like Hobo With A Shotgun, this short will be right up your alley. If you can’t stand gore, child or animal deaths, or tree brutality, stay away. This short is definitely not for everyone but it is something different to watch this Christmas. I liked it fine enough, but I’m sure that plenty of people that I know just won’t get this film.

Thanks for checking out my post. I’ll be posting about a few more Christmas flicks as we get closer to the big day!

In Defense Of Morbius (2022)

Honestly, Morbius Doesn’t Suck

When Sony/Columbia/Marvel released Morbius earlier this year, there were a ton of poor reviews about the film. Critics and fans alike bashed the origin story saying that it was just another generic superhero movie. They accused it of everything from having a paper-thin plot and dull characters to bad CGI and direction. Then there were folks like this guy who pulled out every ten dollar word that they could come up with to drive home the point of just how much this film sucked. Memes making fun of the film apparently drove Sony to erroneously re-release the movie because they thought that people enjoyed the movie. Yep, the cool kids pulled a fast one on Sony and the critics proved that they had a superior vocabulary.

Me? I don’t get any of the hate…..none of it.

Was the film really that bad? No, it wasn’t. I’m not saying that it was perfect or worthy of an award, but it wasn’t “lifeless,” “toothless,” “soulless,” “Frankensteined,” or “input generic horror/vampire/Universal Monsters reference here.” It was just okay. It was a standard comic book origin story where we get a little bit of background on the hero and the villain, witness the moment that both are “created,” and then see them square off in a CGI-laden battle to finish the film.

Despite the generic plot, director Daniel Espinosa manages to move it all along at a nice clip that doesn’t get boring. He breezes through Dr. Morbius’ youth, establishes our soon-to-be-bloodsucker as a sympathetic character, and then tosses the villain in at just the right moment to keep the pace on the high end. Jared Leto (Morbius), Adria Arjona (Dr. Bancroft), Jared Harris (Dr. Nicholas), and Tyrese Gibson (Stroud) all give solid performances. Al Madrigal (Rodriguez) injects just a hint of humor into the film. Matt Smith hams it up big time as Milo/Lucien, also injecting a little humor into an otherwise serious film.

The CGI was obvious at many points in the film, but thanks to the primarily dark scenes, it doesn’t stick out as poorly as it does in films like Avengers: Endgame or any recent Marvel offerings. It didn’t bother me when the CGI was noticeable. I especially enjoyed how the CGI was used with Morbius’ movements (streamer-styled trails behind him while he was in motion) and his echolocation power. I also really, really loved the music for the film composed by Jon Ekstrand. It’s some of the best music for a Marvel property that I’ve heard in a long time.

As I already mentioned, the film is pretty generic for a superhero movie and this definitely hurts it overall. Milo is something of a thin villain and his final battle with Morbius ends on a soft note, but he provides our hero with the catalyst he needs to become the “good guy” despite being a bloodthirsty monster. There are a few misfires plotwise such as the fact that Dr. Morbius has lunch in public and freely walks around the city despite having his face plastered all over the news as being wanted for murder. There are also plenty of throw away characters in the film who are used for nothing more than to build a body count. I also wish that the film went for an “R” rating instead of “PG-13,” as there was almost no blood or gore in the film.

Morbius isn’t perfect. It isn’t terrible, either. If that means I’m not one of the cool kids because I won’t bash the film then I guess I’m not one of the cool kids. That’s okay, I’ve never been one of the cool kids to begin with, so I’m pretty sure that I’ll survive just fine. Heck, I’ll even go so far as to say that I enjoyed this film more than Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. It had more genuine horror elements in it that weren’t forced and a more believable villain. It also had a much needed serious tone, which is something that has been missing from the MCU for far too long. Also, the supposedly confusing mid-credits scenes weren’t that bad. All they do is establish the fact that the multiverse exists in Morbius’ world and he may or may not get to team up with one of the MCU’s best villains in Vulture. If you’re confused by that, you’ve got a long and difficult journey in front of you with the MCU.

To drive home the point that Morbius isn’t as bad as the naysayers want you to believe, it’s currently the number one film on Netflix. Why? Perhaps morbid curiosity is driving streamers to watch the film? Maybe they wanted to see the film in theaters but decided against it due to the poor reviews? COVID-19 might have kept many would-be filmgoers from checking it out at the cinema because they deemed the film unworthy of potential exposure to the virus? No matter the reason, Morbius is finally finding an audience, and I hope to see him back on the big screen in another film either as a villain or a hero.

Thanks for reading my post. I’m sure that there are plenty of you that disagree with me on this film, so let me have it in the comments section. See you again real soon!

They/Them (2022)

Respect, Renew, Rejoice….

As soon as I saw the trailer for Blumhouse’s They/Them (pronounced They Slash Them), I knew that it wouldn’t be just another run of the mill slasher film. Yes, it has a cast filled primarily with LGBTQIA+ actors and takes place at a gay conversion therapy camp, which automatically makes it unique as a horror film, but that’s not what I believed would set it apart. I thought that it might utilize the horrors of conversion therapy as the catalyst for the horror and ultimately attempt to teach us about the evils of conversion therapy, discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people, or something along those lines. Instead, the film is more of a “hunter becomes the hunted” type horror thriller that, well, lacks thrills.

Spoiler-free review ahead!

The film follows a small group of LGBTQIA+ campers as they spend time at Camp Whistler, a conversion camp headed up by Owen Whistler (Kevin Bacon), his wife, Cora (Carrie Preston), who is the camp therapist, two activities directors, Zane and Sarah (Boone Platt and Hayley Griffith), and the brand new camp nurse, Molly (Anna Chlumsky). Initially, Owen and his brood of conversion counselors appear to be friendly and accepting of the campers. As the week progresses, however, the facade begins to chip away to reveal a sinister group of people intent on scaring the gay away from the campers.

While that might be scary in and of itself, the real horror comes in the form of a slasher that begins to take out individuals. Without giving too much away, the killer targets specific people to eliminate, and the film goes from being a potentially excellent reflection of the horrors of conversion therapy and the struggles of LGBTQIA+ in the world to a generic slasher film with an underwhelming and predictable conclusion.

I picked out the villain almost immediately. Certain characters were alluded to as the potential killer, but they were so forced that I was drawn to another character who, not surprisingly, was also blatantly obvious as the killer. The whole film has a forced tone to its horror, and the movie suffers as a result.

Don’t get me wrong. There were some amazing performances in this film. Monique Kim stood out from the pack as Veronica, the cooler-than-cool kid who eventually reveals their heart in the movie. Quei Tann, who portrayed Alexandra in the film, also gave a stirring performance. The rest of the young cast, especially Darwin del Fabro and Austin Crute, also gave great performances. Sadly, Theo Germaine, who played Jordan and was the focus of the film, delivered one of the weaker performances of the young cast members. Of the veteran actors in this film, Kevin Bacon pretty much phoned in his performance and Anna Chlumsky wasn’t given much to work with overall. Carrie Preston was sinister as the camp therapist and I wish that we would have had more of her on the screen.

This film wasn’t an entire bust. The performances of the young cast carried it enough that it held my interest. There’s a brilliant twist featuring one of the campers as well. As for the slasher, the mask was amazing and there’s definitely potential for a sequel. I just hope that if there is another They/Them film, it will either fully embrace the slasher angle or pursue exposing the evils of discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people. It’s worth a watch if you have Peacock, but it’s not a must-see film.

Thanks for checking out my review. I have a few more reviews up my sleeve that will be coming soon and next week I’ll be post my next entry in The Year of KISS. See you soon!

Houston Horror Film Festival 2022!

July 22-24, Houston, TX

I ventured a few hours into the Lone Star State on Saturday, July 23rd, to attend the Houston Horror Film Festival for the first time. Thankfully it took place at the Westchase Marriott, a hotel that I attended another event in a few years ago. That came in handy, as I was already familiar with the layout of the property. Once I arrived I headed to the back of a very long (but swiftly moving) line to pick up my wristband.

The event was well attended despite a number of late and popular cancellations. Rachel True (The Craft), Tiffany Shepis (Abominable), and William Forsythe (The Devil’s Rejects) were just a few of the celebrities that cancelled their appearances. Thankfully the festival managed to snag some amazing replacements including William Ragsdale (Fright Night, Herman’s Head) and Amanda Bearse (Fright Night, Married….With Children) that helped soften the blow of missing out on those that cancelled.

There were two vendor areas, both of which also included celebrity guest areas. Vendor Room One featured a number of great guests, artists, and vendors. It was also the hottest room in the building. The second vendor room was much nicer. It was larger, well cooled, more open for walking, and divided into two areas. One part of the area featured greenish lighting that gave a pretty cool effect to photos. It was in this area where I got to meet both William Ragsdale and Amanda Bearse. Both of them were amazing but Amanda Bearse went above and beyond with her kindness. “Marcy loves you, too!” was the last thing she said to me as I left her table, autograph and selfie in tow. She was so lively and fun. If you get the opportunity to meet her I highly recommend it. William Ragsdale was laid back and very nice as well. I also recommend meeting him if you have the chance.

The vendor area was loaded with items featuring all of the major properties including Friday The 13th, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Scream, Halloween, and Saw. There were also quite a few vendors selling KISS related items. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find a lot of Universal Monsters items with the exception of just a few vendors. One vendor in particular had a lot of Universal Monsters items and I managed to snag two beautiful ornaments that i mistook for busts. I am now the proud owner of an Invisible Man ornament and a Wolf Man ornament.

Due to the limited amount of time that I had I was unable to meet some of the other guests but I did get to enjoy Purgatory Park’s Stranger Things display and I also saw a ton of cool cosplays. The entire event was set up well and ran smoothly. I plan on attending again next year with the intention of staying at the host hotel for the entire event.

I really did have a great time at this festival. They’ve already started teasing upcoming pop up markets and next year’s event. Thanks for checking out my review. Hopefully I’ll see some of you at the Houston Horror Film Festival next year!